Gender-Specific Addiction Treatment
Our 60 years of experience has shown that gender-separate and specific treatment utilizing dialectical and cognitive behavioral therapies, as well as motivational interviewing is highly effective.
Men and women have different experiences and needs related to their genders. We've found that adults in addiction treatment are more comfortable, and more successful in recovery, when they're interacting with peers of the same sex. So, we've created specific treatment environments for men and women – gender-specific treatment buildings in Pennsylvania and gender-specific, supervised community living at Caron Renaissance in Florida.
This separation of genders allows our patients the freedom to be themselves, without the distraction, sexual tension, fear, or any of the other complications that can exist between men and women. It makes it easier for everyone to talk about gender-specific issues and experiences. And, it allows us to present education about and focus on issues that are relevant to each gender.
In the following gender-specific sections, it's important to remember that we look at each patient as an individual. Although our extensive experience allows us to draw some broad conclusions about the trends and tendencies we've found in each gender, we do not generalize or categorize any individual.
Our Treatment Programs for Adult Men
Men reside together at Caron and work together in a variety of groups, depending upon their co-occurring mental health and substance use disorders. We've found that men frequently need to grow and work in some of these particular areas:
- Addressing Co-occurring Disorders
- Skill building to prevent compartmentalizing feelings
- Learning how to ask for help and letting go of control
- Utilizing more effective coping skills
- Addressing other compulsive behaviors
- Processing anger and resentments
- Addressing PTSD
Some of the male-specific topics addressed in the treatment program are described below.
Control vs. Vulnerability
Control and will have had positive gains in the lives of many men. For some it has built businesses, provided financial success, resulted in graduate degrees and transformed careers. There tends to be confusion around someone so intelligent, resourceful, successful and driven that cannot control addiction. Gaining education and acceptance of addiction as a disease helps to alleviate the guilt and shame associated with a misconception that they should have been able to control it. Moving from a need to control to a place of vulnerability is counterintuitive to many men. Men often fear vulnerability, believing that vulnerability negates strength and is viewed as a weakness. Here at Caron, the desire to be honest, open and willing is encouraged and supported through clinical programming and the treatment milieu. The relief that transpires in being able to openly discuss the truth about your addiction in a group of men who do not judge because they understand is a spiritual experience. Together, we process and problem-solve about specific concerns, such as reparation to the family, returning home and to work, and facing those who know they've been in treatment.
Asking for Help
Our society tends to teach men to be self-reliant, and asking for help is often a difficult process. In our spirituality work, acknowledging a Higher Power--something bigger than the self that can provide help--is often difficult but incredibly important. Asking for help, and trusting in that help, are critical elements of recovery. Reliance on others is an integral part of the treatment and recovery process.
Anger and Emotions
Societally, it can be less acceptable for men to show emotions. An inability to identify emotions and a lack of awareness of healthy ways to express them can lead to regression and anger. We work on identifying emotional avoidance and on helping men understand their emotions. We also focus on the difference between thoughts and emotions, teaching men that it's not necessary to hide their feelings.
Our Treatment Program for Adult Women
In Pennsylvania, women reside together within a free-standing all-female building that provides programming for teen girls through adult women (13-60+ years of age). This multi-generational structure provides an environment where female patients can form trusting relationships and build a solid foundation for lasting recovery. In Florida, at Caron Renaissance, women reside together in gender-separate residences within a community living structure. Women work together in a variety of groups, depending upon their co-occurring mental health and substance use disorders. We've found that women frequently need to address and work on some of these particular areas:
- sexual trauma
- eating disorders
- food addictions
- body image issues
- self-injurious behavior
Some of the female-specific topics addressed in the program are described below.
Developing healthy relationships is the cornerstone of treatment for women, and this includes relationships with other women, with men, and, most importantly, with one's self.
A very large percentage of the women we treat have difficulty forming relationships. They tend to hold grudges and remember peer issues longer and have considerably less trust. Working in peer groups helps break down barriers to trust; allowing women to support each other, share experiences, problem solve and be able to develop healthy relationships.
We work a great deal on women's concerns about being good partners and parents. We strive to help women understand that before they can have a good relationship with anyone else, they must first have a good relationship with themselves. They need to feel good about themselves, and understand themselves--their own needs, wants, likes, and dislikes--before they can develop healthy relationships with others. We address overall self-esteem and confidence as well as specific issues such as body image issues or self-injurious behavior.
Shame and Guilt
Feelings of shame and guilt can interfere with the relationships described above, and are also blocks to treatment, as well as potential triggers for relapse. We work very closely with women to identify and heal these issues. In addition to feelings of shame and guilt associated with addiction, women are often prone to feel shame or guilt related to other areas. Feeling that she's a “bad mom” can cause a woman to feel shame. Traumatic experiences also lead to these feelings.